Legislation and Functions
ComReg Strategy Statements
On December 1 2002 the Commission for Communications Regulation (ComReg) was established by the Communications Regulation Act 2002. It replaces the Office of the Director of Telecommunications Regulation (ODTR).
ComReg comprises three members, recently announced as:
- Etain Doyle, the previous ODTR telecommunications regulator, as chairwoman;
- Isolde Goggin, the previous member and director of the Regulated Markets Division of Ireland's Competition Authority; and
- John Doherty, the previous head of market operations in the ODTR.
Its remit comprises all types of transmission networks, including:
- traditional telephone wire;
- traditional television and radio;
- radio communications, including fixed wireless;
- Multipoint, Multichannel Distribution System and deflector operators providing television services;
- mobile operators providing voice and data services;
- the Licensing Framework for Satellite Services in Ireland; and
- the postal delivery network.
The Communications Regulation Act provides for the establishment of ComReg and the transfer of existing ODTR functions to the new entity. The act sets out the primary functions of ComReg as follows:
- to ensure compliance by undertakings with obligations in relation to supply and access to electronic communications services, electronic communications networks and associated facilities, and the transmission of these services on such networks;
- to manage the use of the radio spectrum and the national numbering resource;
- to ensure compliance by providers of postal services;
- to investigate complaints from undertakings and consumers in regard to the supply of and access to electronic communications services and electronic communications networks; and
- to ensure compliance in relation to the placing on the market of communications equipment and radio equipment.
The act deals with enforcement and gives ComReg increased powers to regulate the communications sector, for example by increasing penalties and by imposing a number of material requirements on network operators in relation to road openings and the need for those operators to obtain the consent of and work more closely with road authorities.
The minister for communications, marine and natural resources (who oversees ComReg) is permitted to make policy directions under the act where these are in the interests of proper and effective regulation of the electronic communications market. The most immediate priorities of the minister are that ComReg address issues such as:
- the introduction of flat-rate internet access;
- the harmonization of regulatory obligations across the European Union; and
- the advancement of the government's broadband strategy.
ComReg is required to prepare and submit to the minister a strategy statement by May 1 2003 and every two years thereafter. This will incorporate the minister's finalized policy statement. The strategy statement is required to distinguish between ComReg's functions in relation to electronic communications, management of radio frequency spectrum and postal services. Telecommunications companies, service providers and other interested parties will have the opportunity to air their views on each statement, as the statement must go through a public consultation process.
For further information on this topic please contact David Sanfey at A & L Goodbody by telephone (+353 1 649 2000) or by fax (+353 1 649 2649) or by email ([email protected]). The A & L Goodbody website can be accessed at www.algoodbody.ie.